Residence vs. Domicile: Landmark Ruling in Insurance Law

In a precedent-setting ruling, the Michigan Court of Appeals clarified the distinction between “residence” and “domicile” in insurance law, impacting both insurers and insureds.

In the recent case of Mapp v Progressive Ins Co, Zausmer attorneys, Chad Duschinsky, Kristina Macionski, and Jonathan Freshour represented Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company in a coverage dispute with Progressive Insurance Company. The primary issue revolved around the terminology used in Progressive’s policy, specifically the terms “reside” and “domicile.”

Zausmer Attorneys Argue for Broader Interpretation of ‘Residence’ vs ‘Domicile’ in No-Fault Insurance Policy

Mapp’s mother maintained a policy of insurance with Progressive, which covered relatives who “reside” with her. Progressive claimed that the plaintiff wasn’t entitled to receive no-fault benefits under the Progressive policy because her daughter wasn’t domiciled with her.

Zausmer attorneys countered Progressive’s assertion that the plaintiff was not entitled to no-fault benefits under the Progressive policy because the policy used the term “reside,” not “domicile.” They successfully contended that the policy’s use of the term “residence” has a broader meaning than “domicile”. Zausmer attorneys were able to support this with substantial evidence that the plaintiff’s daughter partially resided with her at the time of the accident.

How Progressive’s Stance on ‘Domicile’ Was Challenged and Overruled

Progressive argued its policy conformed to the No-Fault Act, which uses the term “domicile.” Zausmer attorneys argued that the No-Fault Act sets minimum coverage requirements but doesn’t cap the extent of the coverage an insurer can offer. The Michigan Court of Appeals concurred.

Key Legal Insights: Why Policy Language Matters in No-Fault Insurance

  • Terminology Impact: Distinct terms in insurance policies can greatly influence the extent of coverage afforded.
  • Legal Precedence: This ruling clarifies the rights and duties of both insurers and policyholders, setting a precedent for future questions of policy term interpretation.
  • Review Your Policy: Given this significant legal development, it’s prudent for both insurers and insureds to review their current policies to understand policy terms and for insurers to consider potential revisions.

By understanding the implications of this ruling, both insurers and policyholders can better navigate the complex landscape of no-fault insurance.

Jonathan Freshour focuses his practice on appeals, complex commercial, and real estate disputes, drawing upon his background in appellate research and writing to distill intricate legal and factual issues.